NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
KEY ADDITIONS: WR Demaryius Thomas, TE Benjamin Watson, LB Jamie Collins, TE Lance Kendricks, OL Jermaine Eluemenor, WR Antonio Brown
KEY DEPARTURES: TE Rob Gronkowski, DE Trey Flowers, OT Trent Brown, DT Malcolm Brown, QB Brian Hoyer, WR Cordarrelle Patterson, TE Dwayne Allen, CB Eric Rowe, WR Chris Hogan, DE Adrian Clayborn
DRAFT: 1st round: WR N’Keal Harry, Arizona State 2nd round: CB Joejuan Williams, Vanderbilt 3rd round: DE Chase Winovich, Michigan RB Damien Harris, Alabama OT Yodny Cajuste, West Virginia 4th round: G Hjalte Froholdt, Arkansas QB Jarrett Stidham, Auburn 5th round: DT Byron Cowart, Maryland 6th round: P Jake Bailey, Stanford 7th round: CB Ken Webster, Ole Miss
SUMMARY: The evil empire returns for another campaign but this year without a key cog: tight end Rob Gronkowski. Gronk is a Hall of Famer but had lost a step this past season. Still, in the game’s biggest moments, Gronk showed up. Even a down year for Gronk was an elite year for most players. It’s hard to replace that talent.
The two tight ends they brought in to replace Rob, former Patriots Benjamin Watson and newcomer Lance Kendricks, have both been suspended for the first four games of the season, leaving Matt LaCosse starting.
2018 first-rounder Isaiah Wynn likely starts at left tackle after missing his rookie year with injury. Patriots captain and center David Andrews has been placed on season-ending IR with blood clots, so the Patriots may end up plugging in former Raven Jermaine Eluemenor at center.
Still, the Patriots offensive line is stout, as it always has been since the arrival of Belichick and Brady. Touchdown Tom has been sacked 35 or more times only four times in his career, the most recent in 2017. In ’16? 15 times. In ’18? 21 and longtime offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia.
Demaryius Thomas joins the Patriots on his retirement tour while Josh Gordon returns after rebuilding his mental health. Despite all the missed opportunities and lost time, Gordon offers upside.
Sony Michel broached the 1,000 plateau in his rookie year and behind a strong offensive line, should put up numbers this year.
Stephon Gilmore had an All-Pro nod last year in Foxborough and the defense finished 7th in points against (20.3)
New faces arrive but the Patriots continue on. Mark down another division championship and a strong chance at another Super Bowl trip.
Oh, and as I write this, AB just signed with the Patriots. Sounds like the season’s over already. The Patriots current depth at receiver reads: Antonio Brown, Julian Edelman, Josh Gordon, Demaryius Thomas, N’Keal Harry, Phillip Dorsett.
New faces arrive but the Patriots continue on. Mark down another division championship for Belichick/Brady and a strong chance at another vacation to the Super Bowl.
Even if Antonio Brown’s dive into madness continues and he ends up not playing a snap for the Patriots, New England, these things are assured. If he does, God help us all.
FANTASY PLAYER TO WATCH: James White
White finished 2018 with 87 receptions, good for 15th-best in the league and third-best among running backs (McCaffrey, Barkley). Last year, he had a career-high 123 targets (19th best). I don’t like taking players off career years but White’s target share is consistent and the Patriots always scheme him into the game plan. Sony Michel and Julian Edelman are also on my board this year but White has done me well three years running and I don’t see a reason to back off him now.
SCHEDULE PROJECTED RECORD: 13-3
Week 1: vs. PIT Week 2: @MIA Week 3: vs. NYJ Week 4: @BUF Week 5: @WAS Week 6: vs. NYG Week 7: @NYJ Week 8: vs. CLE Week 9: @BAL Week 10: BYE Week 11: @PHI Week 12: vs. DAL Week 14: vs. KC Week 15: @CIN Week 16: vs. BUF Week 17: vs. MIA
NEW YORK JETS
KEY ADDITIONS: LB C.J. Mosley, RB Le’Veon Bell, WR Jamison Crowder, C Ryan Kalil
KEY DEPARTURES: G James Carpenter, CB Buster Skrine, QB Josh McCown, CB Morris Claiborne, WR Jermaine Kearse, RB Isaiah Crowell
DRAFT: 1st round: DT Quinnen Williams, Alabama 3rd round: DE Jachai Polite, Florida OT Chuma Edoga, USC 4th round: TE Trevon Wesco, West Virginia 5th round: LB Blake Cashman, Minnesota 6th round: CB Blessuan Austin, Rutgers
SUMMARY: The Jets did something very New York-like this offseason: they bought everything.
Between top-three adds C.J. Mosley, Le’Veon Bell and Jamison Crowder, the Jets spent $166 million. C.J. Mosley was an excellent linebacker in Baltimore and was a must-have. Bell, off a vacation year, is a wildcard with dangerous upside and Crowder, with a stable quarterback, has a chance to return to form. Ryan Kalil moves to center from Carolina and Quinnen Williams, a player with HOF talent, enters the middle of the defense. Quinnen likely makes life easier for Leonard Williams, the former USC first-rounder, and All-Pro safety Jamal Adams.
The Jets lack depth at receiver (Robby Anderson/Quincy Enunwa/Crowder/Josh Bellamy) and Mosley is a linchpin in the linebacker corps. The corners are relatively thin behind Trumaine Johnson. That lack of depth put the Jets in 29th for points against last year. The additions on both sides of the ball should improve that number. Hard to imagine it being much worse but how much better can it be?
Teams that build through free agency generally don’t succeed. Teams are determined by their drafts and the Jets are notoriously bad at drafting. Their future will be determined by Darnold’s sophomore season.
He didn’t look like a third overall selection last year (2,865 yards and a 17/15 split) and was showed up by Baker in a worse situation (3,725 yards and a 27/14 split). Darnold needs to make dramatic improvement in 2019. Hopefully Adam Gase doesn’t sabotage the effort.
Despite being better, the Jets likely miss on the playoffs due to a tough schedule (AFC North/NFC East).
FANTASY PLAYER TO WATCH: WR Jamison Crowder
I have no interest in taking a running back one year older and one year removed from football. Bell has high upside, sure, but with a pick that high in the draft, I want to know what I’m getting. There’s no knowing what Bell puts out there in 2019 and for that reason, I’m taking Crowder. The Jets D/ST should be improved and may make a splash or two but I’m going to put my faith in Darnold’s improvement and Crowder’s upside (59/67/66 receptions in his first three years).
SCHEDULE PROJECTED RECORD: 7-9
Week 1: vs. BUF Week 2: vs. CLE Week 3: @NE Week 4: BYE Week 5: @PHI Week 6: vs. DAL Week 7: vs. NE Week 8: @JAC Week 9: @MIA Week 10: vs. NYG Week 11: @WAS Week 12: vs. OAK Week 13: @CIN Week 14: vs. MIA Week 15: @BAL Week 16: vs. PIT Week 17: @BUF
KEY ADDITIONS: C Mitch Morse, WR Cole Beasley, WR John Brown, TE Tyler Kroft, RB T.J. Yeldon, RB Frank Gore, CB Kevin Johnson, G Jon Feliciano, G Quinton Span
KEY DEPARTURES: RB LeSean McCoy, DT Kyle Williams, G John Miller, TE Charles Clay
DRAFT: 1st round: DT Ed Oliver, Houston 2nd round: OT Cody Ford, Oklahoma 3rd round: RB Devin Singletary TE Dawson Knox, Ole Miss 5th round: LB Vosean Joseph 6th round: S Jaquan Johnson, Miami 7th round: LB Darryl Johnson Jr., North Carolina A&T TE Tommy Sweeney, Boston College
SUMMARY: The Buffalo Bills basically cleaned house on their offensive line this offseason. Oklahoma tackle Cody Ford will start while free agent acquisitions Mitch Morse, Jon Feliciano and Quinton Span all slot in with the returning Dion Dawkins.
Removed from that, I’m rather unmoved by the Bills roster. Buffalo had one of the weakest receiving cores in football for Josh Allen’s rookie year. This offseason, they bring in John Brown and Cole Beasley as well as TE Tyler Kroft, all of whom were complimentary players on their former teams. These receivers won’t be able to bail Allen’s out of precarious situations. I’m already not high on Josh Allen. Wasn’t at the draft either. His offensive situation isn’t helping that stance.
While the defense may not jump out on paper, they were solid last year. They finished middle-of-the-road in points against (23.4) but second in yardage allowed (4,706). When a team on paper outperforms expectation, it is a result of players overachieving or coaching. I’m more inclined to give some praise to coach Sean McDermott, though it would be wrong to not applaud efforts from the unit, specifically Tre’Davious White, Lorenzo Alexander, Tremaine Edmunds and the defensive line.
In addition to an inept passing game, LeSean McCoy is now gone, headed for the Midwest. The Bills were right to alleviate a contract that had run its course but now are left with journeyman Frank Gore, rookie Devin Singletary and Jaguar T.J. Yeldon. The Bills offense has to come from somewhere. It’s hard to believe they could be any worse (30th yardage, 31st pass, 30th points) but if the Bills can’t replicate 2018’s ninth-best rushing attack, they might be. The Bills season depends on it.
FANTASY PLAYER TO WATCH: Bills D/ST
With the offense as dead as a Buffalo winter, the defense is the only place to turn. They were the seventh-best defense in standard ppr last session. As they say, no one circles the wagons like the Buffalo Bills.
SCHEDULE PROJECTED RECORD: 6-10
Week 1: @NYJ Week 2: @NYG Week 3: vs. CIN Week 4: vs. NE Week 5: @TEN Week 6: BYE Week 7: vs. MIA Week 8: vs. PHI Week 9: vs. WAS Week 10: @CLE Week 11: @MIA Week 12: vs. DEN Week 13: @DAL Week 14: vs. BAL Week 15: @PIT Week 16: @NE Week 17: vs. NYJ
KEY ADDITIONS: QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB Josh Rosen, CB Eric Rowe, WR Allen Hurns
KEY DEPARTURES: DE Cameron Wake, OT Laremy Tunsil, WR Kenny Stills, LB Kiko Alonso, OT Ja’Wuan James, WR Danny Amendola, RB Frank Gore, G Josh Sitton, S T.J. McDonald, DT Akeem Spence, QB Ryan Tannehill, DE Robert Quinn
DRAFT: 1st round: DT Christian Wilkins, Clemson 3rd round: G Michael Deiter, Wisconsin 5th round: LB Andrew Van Ginkel, Wisconsin 6th round: T Isaiah Prince, Ohio State 7th round: FB Chandler Cox, Auburn RB Myles Gaskin, Washington
SUMMARY: The Dolphins finished 7-9 which is rather impressive considering their offense had a ppg of 19.9. Teams under 20 don’t normally fair well but one way or another, Miami managed seven wins.
They’ll be lucky to make half of that this year. The good news is that Miami is trying to tank for Tua. It would be very concerning if they were trying to compete and ended up being that bad.
With pretty much every possible tradeable asset gone, the Dolphins are a bare bones roster. A receiving core of bust DeVante Parker, Albert Wilson, Allen Hurns and Jakeem Grant will not scare anyone. The offensive line is relatively unknown and the verdict is still out on Kenyan Drake. Mike Gesicki could return to his Penn State form and provide a spark?
Xavien Howard and former Pat Eric Rowe will cycle in the corner spots with long-timer Reshad Jones at safety. The defensive line will be carried by Clemson first-rounder Christian Wilkins.
FANTASY PLAYER TO WATCH: QB Ryan Fitzpatrick
Miami’s passing offense finished 30th last year but Fitzmagic has come to town. As we saw last year in Tampa, Fitzmagic hasn’t died yet. He still has some magic left in the beard. The issue with magic is that it’s entirely unpredictable. Don’t draft Ryan but pay attention to his performances. He could go off at any minute. Be ready to jump on the train.
SCHEDULE PROJECTED RECORD: 3-13
Week 1: vs. BAL Week 2: vs. NE Week 3: @DAL Week 4: vs. LAC Week 5: BYE Week 6: vs. WAS Week 7: @BUF Week 8: @PIT Week 9: vs. NYJ Week 10: @IND Week 11: vs. BUF Week 12: @CLE Week 13: vs. PHI Week 14: @NYJ Week 15: @NYG Week 16: vs. CIN Week 17: @NE